The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) economies have been the subject of many scholarly studies in recent years, as well as featuring in the popular media. This special issue of the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development (AJSTID) called for original research contributions in the various aspects of Science Technology and Innovation (STI) studies in the BRICS group of emerging economics. The issue is composed of 11 research papers on different STI topics relevant to the BRICS countries.
South Africa is among the African countries that have taken initiatives to develop biotechnology industry to meet the persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. This study analyse the Biotechnology Innovation System of South Africa using the three building blocks of sectoral system of innovation (SSI). It also benchmarks South African performance with that of other BRICS countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. Although the South African biotechnology market is quite small compared to other BRICS countries, its potential to grow is high. The scholarly publication patterns from the Medline database show that the knowledge base in this sector is small compared to other countries. However the South African scholarly papers are highly cited. This shows their relevance at the global level. The patent portfolio is also very small and limited to a few technological categories. The publication and patent portfolios show that university research output is not readily being translated into commercial products. Although there are many examples of university spinoff firms in biotechnology, findings from this study emphasis the need for a stronger university-industry relationship to encourage innovation for entrepreneurial start-ups.
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